Monday, October 6, 2008

Keeping in mind...

I am still rocking in the joy of new arrival, and trying to ground myself with these images:

myself there, in the hospital bed, with my two babies, my two infants, my living newborns.

Trying to remember breathing in their wet little heads, and kissing their swollen little mouths.

Knowing that that primal, basal love I had for them in those days where they suckled and groped and rooted and I went along with it all, desperate to dig to the bottom of what they needed and solve it all.

These are good, warm feelings to keep me afloat through these times, where the terrible-twoness I thought maybe was going to pass us by has reared up with a wicked vengeance. This has all corresponded perfectly with Aoife's abrupt and decided end to napping, end to diapers, and the emergence (bloody and bruised) of the two-year molars. My kids are the slowest, most excruciating teethers. Each one takes a few weeks, they come one at a time, so we're looking at a good three months probably, all told, of bloody toothbrushes and tylenol on -demand. And I give it, I feel so sorry for her. But this is all to say that our days together have been, how shall I say, difficult. There are those fleeting moments where I have to give myself a little pinch and say, remember, you love this child, somewhere deep down where you can't see right now. Because it's really hard sometimes.

Even my cool-tempered four year old has, in the past few days, had his moments of exhausted temper tantrums. Just flying into a wilted heap of tears, angry and depleted, and no doubt also affected by the hormonal mess of a sister he has before him, a new creature who is lying on the ground, screaming as loud as she can (as in screaming, not sobbing) and kicking her feet because she wanted raspberries in her rice krispies so I put them in but then she didn't want them so I obligingly took them out and now she wants them in.

We were on our way home from school when we realized we had forgotten the corn chopper he'd brought in for show-and-tell; it was left in his cubby as we ferried out children and artwork and the jackets from morning playtime. He melted into a puddle in his carseat, crying and carrying on, truly sad that his chopper was gone. Then, he asked me to turn around, and I explained that school was over, and so no. And then the piteous weeping morphed into a wailing, cranky tantrum of anger that I wouldn't go back and get it. So I explained, in my best calm voice, again, that the school was closed, the teachers had gone home, and the door was locked. The crying continued, wailing, yelling, kicking my seat crying. Seven minutes elapsed. I turned on the radio, pretty loud, gripped the wheel until my knuckles were white. Thought happy thoughts. Tried to remember that I love him so much, thought about his sweetness and his curiousity, and then it became too much. My arm jerked out, shut off the music, and a sound emerged from my throat: BE QUIET! It sounded like a snarl, like a wild, angry animal. It was me. I admit it.

The past week or so has felt a lot like getting by, in the times when I'm alone with the kids, and I don't like the idea that I'm just getting by, without really savoring or having fun. But this is the truth of it, that even if your first baby is dead and all you want to do is savor and enjoy and appreciate every single moment of parenting, awake or asleep, sometimes it's just a hard job that you do. And at those times, that primal, animal love that keeps you going makes you take a deep breath, remember how quickly kids change, and look at them in the eye and talk in your calmest voice. Okay, not always the calmest possible voice, but we try, right?

(look how cute they used to be. REMEMBER THIS)


AnnaMarie said...

I don't comment much in your blog but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your perspective on parenting through the difficult toddler days while having to remember how lucky you are to have them.

Someday I might have a subsequent child and will remember your honest words through teething and tantrums. Already I worry about how I will handle the unpleasant aspects of pregnancy and child rearing even after knowing how precious it all is by having it all taken away.

Best of luck with the little ones! Always reading, mostly quiet, Anna

Anonymous said...

oh how much i wish i could have read this when willem was between 4-6 months. to remind me that it's not just me that goes through tough parent times.
it would have given me just the slightest strength to hold firm the knowledge i knew i had hidden beneath the tired mother's tears. that i love my children even through the frustrating sleepless nights.

besides the no sleep, i went to a pediatrician that told me his crying all night was indeed not reflux and just parenting issues that i just needed to resolve with letting him cry it out. something which i refused and refuse to do. she offered no help beyond that and only criticized my "lack of parenting"... (i was confused by that line) we got through it, with gentle parenting and corrected his "bad" sleep habits. but hearing that then when i needed positive encouragement the most... when i had horrid horrid thoughts from total lack of sleep, that when i occasionally think back upon i feel horribly guilty.

i would literally have to slap my face and tell myself, "he's just a baby, he's just a baby... you love him, you love him." with lack of sleep it's easy to lose your mind and think they're screaming on purpose.
i remind others to call if they need help, but then found myself too proud to call when i needed help the most.


and Roan was a horrible teether as well. although it never produced bloody toothbrushes, just painful screaming. he's getting his two year molars right now, so lots of hand chewing and slobber. hopefully this will go easier for my dear one.

Rika said...

You are a star Momma and it gives me peace to know that even Carol has hard days. Thank you for your honesty.

I have been meaning to is baby Andrew?


Meg said...

Carol, this is what makes you NORMAL!!!! You do try, and seem to manage, more than most to truly appreciate your kids every day, but there are just moments where it gets to be too much. You are doing such a great job and just remember: You're human. You'll have rough days, but you'll get through and be ok. The fact that you feel upset means you're a great mom. Just keep trying. We all have those feelings.

Rebecca said...

I had an epiphany on the way to work husband thinks our son loves mommy more than anything. This is true so long as daddy is around. Yet when daddy leaves for work and its just mommy, our son challenges mommy more than anything. Can't chanage the diaper right, give him the right breakfast, put on the right shirt, wipe off the milk he spilled just right, get the right drink of water, hand him the right toy, etc. This morning I am convinced my son truly disliked me. Yet the struggle continues to raise a sweet and civilized human being, which he is.....mostly. Except when he, like Liam, is howling in the carseat for minutes on end. It is *hard* to be 2...or 3...or 4. And sometimes it is hard to be 30-something as well. :)